I’ve been a hopeless romantic for as long as I can remember, so dating shows like The Bachelor and Love is Blind have been my mindless entertainment of choice for years. Even after the shows ended, I’d continue rooting for my favourite couples, following their podcast interviews and ‘Who Knows Me Best’ YouTube videos.
Mindy Kaling once said romantic comedies are a subgenre of sci-fi, a world that operates under different rules to our own. Dating shows are the same. They’re social experiments, seeing if people can find love under the most extraordinary of circumstances and rules that would often be unacceptable in real life situations.
Take The Bachelor. In this world, a (often white) man, presented as the quintessential bachelor, has his pick of 30 or so women. He may have a personality in real life, but the show rarely reveals it and that’s by design. He’s anything you want him to be; a blank canvas for viewers to project their dreams onto.
The first season I watched followed Chris Soules, a millionaire farmer living in Iowa who is adamant about never leaving. For reasons I can’t explain, even 18-year-old me was lulled into believing he was a catch.